Today I was proud to introduce a petition signed by more than 10,000 people opposing Westconnex. The Greens stand with the community in opposing this wasteful and harmful project.
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) [4.30 p.m.]: Congratulations to the concerned residents and families, local community groups, including the WestConnex Action Group, Save Newtown, No WestConnex [NoW] public transport and local businesses, as well as the hundreds of volunteers who spent their time collecting signatures so this debate could occur. A special shout out to all of you who are in the gallery today, but I warn you not to shout back. I stand here leading in this crucial debate on WestConnex because of you—because people like you demanded this debate. You have put the community opposition to WestConnex on the agenda with this petition of more than 10,000 signatures and forced the New South Wales Government—and members are watching on television screens—to hear your concerns.
I make it clear up-front that this petition is calling on the Government to halt the tender and construction processes for WestConnex, including the acquisition of homes and businesses; to hold a full parliamentary inquiry into WestConnex; and to release the full business case. The complete failure of the Government to do anything about addressing those concerns is nothing short of disgraceful. It is clear that the Government has something to hide. Already many residents have had their homes taken from them. Others, including residents and local schools, are being exposed to large amounts of asbestos as a result of the WestConnex M4 widening construction being undertaken by Rizzani De Eccher and Leighton in Granville and Auburn. Many thousands more face the potential of living next to or near congested multi-lane roads, breathing highly toxic fumes and having their neighbourhoods cut in half.
It is astounding that the New South Wales Government continues with WestConnex when the benefits do not add up and when the risks to our communities and to our health are so great. Best-practice planning for healthy, sustainable, liveable cities does not involve putting large amounts of the population into private primary transport options. Let us not forget that those who will supposedly benefit from WestConnex will be slugged exorbitant toll charges. It is a simple fact that building more roads to counter traffic congestion is a fundamentally flawed solution in the twenty-first century. It is completely out of step with all the evidence that it is bad for our natural environment and our climate, as well being completely financially irresponsible. More roads induce more traffic.
WestConnex is simply not a solution to Sydney's current transport problems or its future transport requirements. Why has there been such a lack of transparency? Why have we not seen the finalised business case? Why are billions of dollars worth of contracts being signed prior to planning approvals and completion of all the environmental impact statements? Why has the Government further hidden this project from scrutiny by creating the private Sydney Motorway Corporation? Why has the multinational company AECOM been commissioned to provide environmental impact statements when at the same time it has contracts for the construction of the project?
This will be yet another failed tollway in Australia. Unfortunately, I do not have time now to remind members on the other side of the House of the financial debacles of the Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel. And what of those who raise concerns and object to this highly flawed project, including the residents of St Peters? They face the arrogance of this Government, particularly the roads Minister who regularly insults community members, residents and representatives who oppose WestConnex. I have a message from the people in the gallery and the 10,000 people who signed this petition: Premier, Ministers, your job is to listen to the people and their legitimate concerns. People are legitimately concerned about this project and that is why they are calling for the release of the public information so that they can know why the Government sees this project as such a benefit.
Let us be clear: It is not only the people who live in the inner city and in the inner west who have signed this petition. People from all over New South Wales have signed the petition. From Banora Point near Tweed to Coonamble in the State's central north and to Gerringong on the South Coast, people have signed on to oppose this road. There are Maria and Beth from Bankstown, Monica from Camden, Ian from Cranebrook, Nathan from Penrith, Colleen and Bob from Seven Hills, Sally from Broke in the Upper Hunter—the list goes on. In Randwick, Coogee, Miranda and Heathcote, people have signed the petition. In Parramatta, Fairfield, Granville and Chipping Norton, people have signed the petition to say stop WestConnex. It is high time to call a halt to this highly flawed project until the full business case is released and a public inquiry is allowed into this polluting tollway.